Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More on Video Games vs Chess

I'll just bring these up from the comments. Remember, I know less about modern video games than I realized, so go easy on me.

Two hypotheses:

1) Chess takes a lifetime to master, but any one computer game is over and done with after, I would guess, no more than six months of daily play. True or False?

2) A video game is mastered through a series of trial and error until the correct strategy and type of tactics are discovered. In other words, one strategy and type of tactics will always ultimately dominate a video game. And then it is solved and simply a matter of reflexes. True or False? No particular strategy or tactics dominate Chess after hundred of years, although naturally some are in different categories of worth than others.

Here are some other thoughts:

Here is a somewhat better defense of video games that raises some of the same points as the previously cited one. It properly links to an article from the APA slamming video games as an alternative point of view. Since the article is arguing against the idea that video games are valueless, rather than against the idea that violent video games are fine for kids, it succeeds more admirably. As to the violence, the article recommends that children not have access to M and AO games. And makes clear that video gaming, like all culture, is now an adult activity as well as a children's activity, and so shouldn't be condemned for catering to adult tastes.

I didn't know that Chess is a "recognized sport" in the Olympics, which means that it is being considered for inclusion as a main event. The list also includes Bridge. On this basis, people are trying to get video games recognized, as well.

I have some questions: Which video game? Will the rules to this video game, as well as the platform it is played on, be frozen for 4 years, like in every other game or sport? How about the next twenty years, so that it can be in at least five Olympics? Don't we need a stable game before this happens?



Anonymous said...

It took me about ten years from the first time I tried it to finish Nethack. It's deep, but not in strategy, really. It just has an incredible amount of stuff in it. That makes it hard to master. Six months of daily play should be enough to finish it few times, but you'll still encounter something new.

But that's an exception, a really rare exception.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Your comment clarifies yet another problem with the comparison of computer games vs chess:

The game of Nethack, and likely many other computer games, can be broken into levels and solved piece by piece. Once you have done levels 1-10 in Nethack, there is nothing left to learn, and nothing left to play. You haven't even "solved" anything. You have merely uncovered the hidden, like learning the answer to a riddle.

That is not ... I tentatively assert ... the same as learning strategy. That is merely learning a-b-a-c-a-b-a-c-d-a-c-d. OK, now we've solved level 1, on to level 2. Big deal.


Jackson Pope said...

An awful lot of video games (especially the adventure style ones) can be completed in a matter of hours. And you're right - there's very little strategy involved in these types of games it's mostly reflexes. Real-time strategy games include a bit more strategy, however there is usually a winning strategy that once you've learn it's just a case of micro-management of production & building. I'm bored of computer games though (I played them a lot over the last 15-20 years), so mine is a jaded view.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Thank you Jack. My point exactly.

Any contrary opinions?


Anonymous said...

You should generally compare chess with multiplayer games, not single-player ones. Much of the depth in chess was discovered by humans who could invent strategies, apply them repeatedly, and teach them to other humans. Artificial intelligence is not yet good at this, and single-player computer games do not attempt it.

For many multiplayer computer games of any age, you can find a community of players still playing it daily. This community is going to be small relative to the number of people who have ever played the game, but the same is true for chess. If the community is large enough, a part of it will be interested in deeper study of the game.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Anon - you are right, technically.

When someone says that playing computer games is on the same level as playing chess, they are probably referring to single player computer games, such as Civilization, Sims, and so on.

These games, while great and fun and all that, should more appropriately be compared to Sudoku, not Chess.

The apt Chess comparison is to two-player or multi-player games. I have another article to write. :-)